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*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
I remembered this from Sunday as a clear Cincinnati win. I re-watched it today…and…not so much. This game was 14-0 Miami at the half. 17-0 Dolphins at one point in the 3rd quarter. 17-3 after three. Cincy didn’t help themselves along the way…a red zone pick, blocked FG, punt return TD allowed. Cincy was doomed 45 minutes in.
And then, in a way that can only be described as – God loves me and wants my Cincinnati win total over 5.5/6.0 to payoff for me and all my friends as quick as possible – every suddenly went the Bengals way. A weird TD pass/wounded duck that Joe Mixon acted like a WR on and adjusted to/caught/scored to close the gap…followed by football follies of a batted Tannehill pass/D-Lineman pick and TD rumble and then a fumble return TD late to seal it.
How did this happen? Minus defensive and special teams scores this game was Cincy 13 and Miami 10. Just a weird game all the way around. It was typical Cincinnati – not good enough to play consistent football and put weak teams away but good enough to make plays and stay in/win some games like this. This sloppy play, but win, is not as likely to happen against better teams. Two weeks in a row the Bengals lived with the angles beating bad Atlanta (last second) and bad Miami (fluke defensive TD frenzy). I have a feeling Cincy will get walloped this week hosting the Steelers.
If Cincinnati can beat the Steelers this week, they’re almost assured a shot at the playoffs. If they lose this week, I think they settle into their win one, lose one ways and scratch and claw to a 9-7 wild card at best. They have two games left with Cleveland, and that would have been two easy wins likely but with Baker Mayfield – it might be two losses. I need Cincy to get to 6 and 7 wins to payoff all my win-total bets. They look good for it now but a spiral could be coming if they lose Week 6.
Miami, predictably is going into the tank. The 3-0 start is now 3-2 and they’ll be 4-6 by their BYE and discussing a coaching change at year’s end when they finish 6-10.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- We have to talk about Kenyan Drake (6-46-0, 7-69-1/11).
I saw a fantasy analyst railing on Drake for his lowly 6 carries in this ‘breakout’ (he said sarcastically) performance. So, what if he got a lot of targets, he’s not getting carries…so, no thanks the analyst bemoaned.
I get that sentiment. The sentiment of someone who doesn’t study football but just grabs for narratives based on box score trends – I used to do the same thing. It takes time and discipline to watch all this stuff every week all year round.
The talking point from this game should not be Drake’s limited carries the past few weeks…but that is an issue. The talking point shouldn’t be to mock the sudden spike in targets (11 this game)…but it’s logical to question it given 4-4-4-2 for targets in games prior. To me, the thing that caught my attention was the purpose behind this target spike.
This was not ‘game flow’ for Drake. This was purposed. A change in the offense. Not Drake with 11 screen passes in a crazy deficit/comeback attempt…but Drake running real routes and sometimes lined up as a WR. His TD catch was sprinting out of the backfield on the snap and beating a linebacker by 7+ yards for an easy 22-yard TD.
Gone, might be the Drake that takes 12 carries and sees 2-4 targets a game and arrived is a guy who was known for his pass catching skills taking 7+ targets a game with 7+ carries…or, in other words, known as ‘Miami’s Alvin Kamara’.
I’ve never seen Drake used like this, so it’s very possible that it was so smart, effective, and successful that they’ll never do it again. That’s probably the smart bet with dunce-like NFL coaches, and Miami has one of the worst O-Cs on the planet. However, what if they ‘discovered something’ and this is a new Kenyan Drake reality? The way he should’ve been used all along, to some degree – as a Kamara?
I’m willing to buy low on that. People are giving him away as an RB2.5. He’s a talented runner and receiver and just saw 11 targets in a game and the next closest player for his team was at 6. People are so focused on the carry count they are missing a potential big picture – or they’re right to ignore it. Ignorance may be bliss.
-- The better Alvin Kamara/Kenyan Drake is Joe Mixon (22-93-0, 3-22-0/4), who should be a new age Le’Veon Bell seeing 7-10+ targets a game but is kept in an old school box of 2-4 targets a game. Obviously, in this game, he knee was fine, as suspected. No reason, except Marvin Lewis, that Mixon isn’t an RB1 this season.
-- C.J. Uzomah (2-43-0/2) had a couple nice plays on each of his catches in this game. I particularly liked the TE bubble screen they ran and CJU raced for 25 yards. They could run that play several more times if they needed to. They might this week against the Steelers.
-- No worries on Tyler Boyd (4-44-0/7) after his hot start to 2018, a dip this game. Nothing crazy happened…it just wasn’t Cincy’s best offensive performance. He’s a solid RB2 PPR ROS.
-- Again, Mike Gesicki (3-26-0/5)…so slow, so unimpressive. Absolutely nothing like his NFL Combine. I’m not sure I’ve seen an NFL Combine set of numbers be so far off on-field reality as it is with Gesicki.
-- Two IDPs trending so well…
Cincy LB Nick Vigil (9 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD) didn’t drop off with Vontaze Burfict (7 tackles) making his 2018 debut. 9.8 tackles per game for the talented Vigil this season.
Miami rookie LB Jerome Baker (7 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2 TFLs) finds his was into a game blurb/note every week since the preseason, I think. I can’t help it. He stands out. He’s always around the ball. His numbers keep improving. 8.7 tackles per game the past 3 games.
Snap Counts of Interest…
55 = Uzomah
24 = Kroft
12 = Schreck
51 = AJ Green
45 = Boyd
36 = Erickson
60 = Stills
58 = Alb Wilson
53 = Amendola
15 = Jakeem Grant
30 = Gesicki
28 = O’Leary
41 = Drake
26 = Gore
02 = Ballage
45 = Vigil
42 = Preston Brown
34 = Burfict
31 = Willis
31 = Lawson